Turkey lays out plans for Caucasian alliance as Georgian FM in Istanbul - September, 2008

Despite objections from Baku and certain circles within the Turkish government a Turkish delegation may soon visit Armenia. Ankara's behavior in the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian war was evidence that Moscow is behind the recent sudden warming in Turkish-Armenian relations. Nonetheless, many Armenians are very nervous. We simply don't know what is transpiring behind-the-scenes in Yerevan, Moscow, Washington or Ankara. In my opinion, we Armenians need to give this matter some time before we begin forecasting doom and gloom for Armenia. As I said previously, I have no doubt President Sargsyan's move regarding Turkey is being orchestrated in large part by Moscow. It seems as if Moscow is attempting to drive a wedge between the West and Turkey and one of the tools they seem to be using is Armenia, the other being energy and trade. 

On a side note: What have been happening in the region recently poses a danger to Armenia. Let's make no mistake about it, the global community is on the brink of a major world war. One wrong move can set-off a major war. Do any of us honestly think that Armenia or Armenia's national interests would matter much to the big players if such a war broke out? To our detriment, sometimes we Armenians think too highly of ourselves. We need to take a close look at Armenia's geopolitical/socioeconomic situation before we "demand" things from the global community. As unrealistic as it may sound, let's just say that Turkey and Russia decided to form an alliance. If such a thing happened, what in the world can Armenia/Armenians do about it? To survive in such a case, official Yerevan would have to forget all of its interests and simply pray/hope that its neighbors don't decide to do away with it. The hard reality is that our Armenia (tiny, resourceless, impoverished, remote, embattled, landlocked) exists today at the mercy of foreign powers, specifically at the mercy of Moscow. Before we demand anything let's first realize this hard reality.

There is another perspective to all this:

Turkey's lucrative multi-billion dollar trade with the Russian Federation was adversely effected due to the war in Georgia. Turkey also imports a majority of its oil and gas from Russia via the Black Sea and Georgia. With the Georgian-Russian border now effectively shutdown for the foreseeable future, with the entire Black Sea region being a highly volatile powder keg, Ankara is in a very serious panic. Ankara is stuck between two very powerful forces, Washington and Moscow. As a result, it has a lot to lose in all this. Politicians in Moscow, on their part, do not want to see their lucrative trade with Ankara suffering either. As a result, Turkey and Russia are most probably attempting to seek an alternative transit route for their trade. Needless-to-state, as a result of the current war between Georgia and Russia, Armenia is ideally positioned to be this alternative conduit for trade, even perhaps a transit route for future gas/oil distribution. So, if and when Ankara and Yerevan begin talking, we can all expect Baku to eventually jump in as well. I don't think any of this situation will have a negative impact on the status of Nagorno Karabakh. Worst case scenario, Armenia's genocide recognition pursuit would be placed on hold. Despite Moscow's good relations with Turkey Armenia will continue playing a vital strategic role in Russia's strategic outlook. I really can't see a situation in the foreseeable future where Armenia would become dispensable for Moscow.

Nonetheless, the near future holds many surprises, we are certainly living in interesting times.

Arevordi



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Turkey lays out plans for Caucasian alliance as Georgian FM in Istanbul 


September, 2008

A Turkish delegation would visit Yerevan to hold meetings with their Armenian counterparts to convey Turkey's proposal for a Caucasus alliance, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Sunday after meeting with his Georgian counterpart in Istanbul. Turkey's proposal was the country's latest effort to promote peace between Georgia and Russia since they fought a war this month over Georgia's separatist republic of South Ossetia. Babacan hosted Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili, two days before he is to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the same city. Georgia welcomed Turkey's proposal for a Caucasus alliance, Babacan told a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart Tkeshelashvili. Georgian foreign minister, however, said her country would only consider joining such a group after Russian forces leave his country and fully apply the ceasefire. Russian troops entered Georgia on August 8 to push back a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia, which broke away from Tbilisi in the 1990s with Moscow’s backing. Georgia and Russia accuse each other of having provoked the conflict. Moscow has pulled out most troops after a French-mediated ceasefire agreement but Tbilisi wants all Russian forces to leave the country. Babacan said Turkey supported its northeastern neighbor's territorial integrity, and added the Caucasian countries had common futures. He said Turkish-Georgian relations were grounded on a strong basis, adding Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project are the natural products of Turkey's strategic cooperation and neighborly relations in South Caucasus. "These projects, in fact, have linked the Caspian Sea with the Mediterranean, Caspian basin with Anatolia and the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea," he said. Babacan also called on everyone to behave calmly after recent tension and disagreements in the region. "We all know from previous experiences that no one wins in such tensions, and every one will lose something," he said. Tkeshelashvili warned of a "domino effect" in the Caucasus region and Ukraine after Russia moved troops into Georgia. "Russia's military hostility against the small state of Georgia could have a domino effect in other countries of the region like Ukraine," she said. She accused Moscow of an "expansionist policy" and called on the international community to back Georgia's territorial integrity.

GUL'S VISIT

The Turkish delegation would also discuss with Armenian officials issues regarding a possible visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to watch a football match between Armenia and Turkey, Babacan told the conference. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has invited Gul to watch a football match between the two countries' national teams on Sept. 6 to mark "a new symbolic start in the countries' relations." Turkish president said Saturday he is yet to make a decision on accepting the invitation. However, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in the same day he wished Gul's visit would bring positive results, hinting that Gul might have actually decided to accept Sargsyan's invitation. Erdogan also said Babacan would accompany the Turkish President during the trip to discuss relations with Armenia. Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency. However there is no diplomatic relations between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue. A warming period had started between two neighboring countries after the presidents exchanged letters after Sargsyan's election victory.

Source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/h...d=244&sz=99284

Turkish premier says Russia "more than special" for Turkey



Prime Minister Erdogan has said that Turkey is trying to make sure that the tension in the Caucasus does not become worse. He said: Russia is special for us. The prime minister was replying to reporters' questions during the Victory Day reception at the at the Gazi military club in Ankara. In reply to a question on President Gul's visit to Armenia, Erdogan said: May it be auspicious. As for the president, he said he has not yet decided whether to go or not. Erdogan said that together with Foreign Minister Babacan, they were trying to solve the problems in the Caucasus at the negotiation table. He said: Russia is more than special for us. The United States is our ally and Russia is our largest trade partner. We get two thirds of our energy from Russia. God forbid, we may remain in the dark. We are also sensitive in connection with Georgia. In connection with the warships in the Black Sea, Erdogan affirmed that the Montreux Convention would be followed, and that the ships will leave on time, and maybe earlier.

Source: http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg242390.html

Azerbaijan worries


Analysts warn that contacts with Armenia could offend Azerbaijan, Turkey's regional ally which also shares close ethnic and linguistic ties. Babacan assured his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, on Friday that Turkey was a strategic partner of Azerbaijan in all areas but signs of tension were visible during the one-day visit. The two ministers gave a very brief press statement after their talks and Mammadyarov said before meeting Babacan that his country would consider "profitability" concerning a Russian proposal to buy Azerbaijani oil, a move that would undermine a US-backed pipeline to transfer Caspian oil to Europe via Turkey. The government's apparent plans to initiate dialogue with Armenia are receiving criticism at home as well. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal told reporters yesterday that the government was trying to reverse the official policy without Armenia meeting any of the conditions requested by Turkey for normalization of ties. He warned against alienating Azerbaijan, saying this country is of vital importance for Turkey in many respects. "I want the government to refrain from taking any step that would harm Azerbaijan," he said and added that he would rather go to Baku than to Yerevan to watch the World Cup game.

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/de...1794&bolum=100

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